Was there a specific wine, moment or place that unlocked your passion?
Andy Lytle: I tasted a 1987 Altesino Brunello almost 30 years ago, and from that moment on I was captivated by fine wine. As it relates to champagne or sparkling wine, it was a combination of tasting wines like Krug NV, Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé and Dom Perignon, but the one particular wine that drove my heart to forever pursue bubbles was the 1995 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs. It had something different … something I could not put my finger on or describe with my palate. It was that wine and particularly Blanc de Blancs that had my heart.
What did you study in school and what were you doing before you started in the wine industry?
AL: At the University of Arizona I studied Economics and Japanese. My thought was to go to law school and work for an international conglomerate until I could start a private practice representing my family business as a beer and wine distributor. I never got there … I felt the gap from school to outside work would take over 10 years to get back to the family business … I felt it too long and would lose touch of the business. With that in mind my first job out of school was with E&J Gallo winery.
How has being in the wine industry changed you?
AL: I am not sure if it changed me, but it surely “shaped” me. In my adult professional career I have worked for wine suppliers and beer suppliers … I have worked for my family in the distribution business selling beer, wine and non alcohol products. But the passion was always the wine business. I sold wine for almost 30 years, but now I am forever imbedded in all aspects of wine. My current love affair is in fully understanding all aspects of viticulture, enology and winemaking.
What’s your favorite part of being in the wine industry?
AL: In that first chapter of my career it was and still remains to be the “People”. All aspects … selling, educating, tasting, learning, marketing, operations, viticulture, winemaking … the people that do these roles are what made this industry so fulfilling and rewarding.
In this second chapter of my career it is the “Earth”. My family comes from three generations of tree farming … they would plant, harvest and reproduce Douglas Fir trees in the NW. Today, the viticulture and enology aspect of putting vines in the earth is my favorite aspect of the wine industry. Jess Jackson once said “if you take care of the land, the land will take care of you” … I could not agree more and find joy in that pursuit. People ask what I do … and jokingly tell them … I am #Farmer.
Looking back, was there something in your past that led you to wine?
AL: To me it seems that it was inevitable and maybe decided long before me. For generations we were farmers of trees, then we were on the distribution side of things in a significant way … and now I am back to the farming aspect of wine using the 1st chapter of my learnings to help guide the 2nd chapter of things to come. The journey continues.
Search for @lytle-barnett on social media platforms
Check out Andy’s rental home in the middle of a vineyard, At the Joy and @atthejoy
Follow this link to read about Windfall Vineyards and @windfallvineyards